A Reflection of My Time Abroad

Written by charliedezube June 13, 2024

Today marks the final week of my journey at CIMBA. I chose to study abroad to step outside my comfort zone, and CIMBA offered an incredible balance of academic rigor and travel opportunities that I couldn’t resist. As I look back on my time in Italy, it feels like it flew by, yet it has profoundly shaped who I am. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything and am deeply grateful for everything I’ve encountered here.
In this article, I want to reflect on my experience and break it down into three key areas: Academics, Culture, and Personal Growth. Let’s dive in.

Immersing in a New Academic Environment

Before coming to CIMBA, I have to admit I didn’t do a lot of due diligence on the school schedule. To my surprise, the days were much more packed with classes than I would’ve guessed, but I was ready to take on the challenge. On a typical day, I would start with one of my two classes—either Global Economics or Classical Mythology—at 8:00 am, which lasted until 9:30 am. After that, I either had an hour and a half break or my second class at 9:45 am, which went until 11:15 am. Twice a week, we also had a three-hour block class from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Adjusting to this schedule felt like going back to high school but in a refreshing way. It made me realize just how valuable time is. Managing assignments, doing laundry, and planning weekend trips within my limited free time taught me to allocate my time much more efficiently. Now, this may seem daunting to the average college student—since we often have a lot of downtime— but I assure you, it’s an experience that is both beneficial and worthwhile. Plus, the 300 other students doing CIMBA with me are in the same boat, so it’s nice knowing you’re not the only one who has to manage their time more efficiently.
I’d also like to mention that, usually, you can expect to have around 2-4 hours of free time each day, depending on your schedule. This gives you plenty of time to play basketball, tennis, soccer, or whatever else you enjoy doing.

Exploring New Cultures Through Travel

Before coming to CIMBA, my cousin and I went to Lisbon, Portugal to visit my brother, Benjamin. This was my first encounter with Europe, and it was such a culture shock that I didn’t know what to make of it besides being in awe. By the end of my trip to Portugal, I was truly immersed in the culture and loved every second I spent in Europe.
Once school started, my first travel weekend arrived. My cousin, some friends, and I decided to visit Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona quickly became one of my favorite places due to its vibrant atmosphere, the breathtaking Sagrada Familia, and the amazing Spanish restaurants and nightlife. It was an unforgettable experience, one for the books.
The following weekend, we took a trip to Milan and Lake Como in Italy. This trip was organized by third-party provider, which made the planning process much easier. Milan was a bustling city with an incredibly fun nightlife, and we even did some shopping since it’s the fashion capital of the world. Lake Como, however, is the prettiest place I’ve ever seen, and I’m not sure if anything will ever top it. The serene lakeside, beautiful boat tours, and stunning views made it my favorite. We stayed in a hostel with an incredible view and enjoyed a live band playing right outside. It was a magical night.
Lastly, I just finished up my trip to Florence and Rome, Italy, which was also organized by the third-party provider. Even though we only had one night in Florence, it didn’t dampen my enjoyment. We hiked up to a rooftop bar and witnessed one of the most beautiful views of my life.
Rome was all about walking and sightseeing. My cousin, my buddy Jack, and I went on a five-hour walking tour, learning all about the city’s rich history. We followed that with a Vatican tour, where I got to see the inside of the Sistine Chapel with my own eyes. It was truly awe-inspiring.


With my visits from Portugal to Spain to all over Italy, I believe I have changed significantly from the person I was before coming to Italy. The biggest lesson I’ve learned while studying abroad is patience. I’ve always been quite impatient but being in Europe—often without an internet connection—has taught me to be okay with boredom and to find comfort in it. Moving forward, I’m going to use my phone less to practice my patience with boredom. Also, I like the idea of not mindlessly scrolling through social media every day.
It’s nice to finally understand that boredom isn’t something to be feared, but rather appreciated. In short, I wouldn’t fully back the saying “studying abroad turns you into a completely new person,” but I would back the fact you come back with new skills you weren’t planning on obtaining.